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EMC vs HDS: Bandwidth Brawl

Since EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) launched the Symmetrix DMX last week, it has been exchanging a volley of performance claims -- and counterclaims -- with its chief rival in the high-end enterprise storage space, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS).

"It's a pissing war," says Steve Duplessie, senior analyst at Enterprise Storage Group Inc.

EMC says the DMX, based on its proprietary Direct Matrix Architecture of point-to-point serial connections, ratchets up the system's internal data bandwidth to a maximum of 64 GByte/s -- forty times that of the Symmetrix 5.5. Including message (or "control") bandwidth of 6.4 MByte/s, EMC asserts the DMX provides an aggregate of 70.4 GByte/s (see Does EMC's DMX Measure Up? and EMC Soups Up Symm).

Hitachi, which had touted a previously industry-leading aggregate internal bandwidth of 15.6 GByte/s -- 10.6 GByte/s of data bandwidth plus 5.3 GByte/s of control bandwidth -- for the Lightning 9980V, was rocked back on its heels. Nevertheless, its executives have refused to accept that EMC has surpassed it in terms of performance, claiming the DMX can't handle mixed workloads as well as the Lightning and noting that it doesn't provide as much single-system capacity (Hitachi's 9980V supports up to 1,024 drives versus the DMX 2000's 288).

"Overall we feel their weakness is being able to truly scale multiple applications... and in terms of capacity and performance, they're basically saying they don't have the ability to scale," says Phil Townsend, senior director of product marketing at HDS.

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